PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Corbett said his administration on Wednesday night signed off on the Pennsylvania Lottery deal.

Corbett is giving a 20-year contract to a British firm to operate the lottery.

At a press conference Thursday, the Governor claimed the controversial deal will benefit senior citizens.

The outcry has been strong, accusing the Governor of putting together a secret deal behind the backs of the public and legislators.

Critics say Corbett is risking a well-functioning and profitable lottery — designed to help seniors — on a scheme that takes money away from senior programs and usurps legislative power.

Today in Hershey the Governor swung back.

Corbett says — unlike his critics who have raised questions about the privatization of the Pennsylvania Lottery to a foreign company — his focus is on the future.

“I see a lot of the commentary out there has been about today, not about tomorrow. We need to start planning for tomorrow,” Corbett emphasized.

The Governor says this deal, which guarantees $34 billion to the Lottery over the next 20 yearsk will benefit the state’s growing population of seniors.

“In 17 years, one in four Pennsylvanians will be over the age of 60,” he added.

Critics don’t dispute that, but say Corbett’s deal gives Camelot Global Services a guaranteed profit of $1.7 billion, which could be used for senior programs.

And they question the Governor’s authority to expand the lottery to keno at bars and clubs without legislative approval.

“They didn’t vote on the creation of Powerball in Pennsylvania,” responded Corbett. “Frankly, my counsel, my legal counsel advises that we have authority to do this.”

In another answer to critics, Corbett says Camelot will work to maintain the jobs of current lottery employees and, if not, the state will step in to protect those workers

The union representing those workers has gone to court to block the deal.

The Governor also said that his next budget — out in February — will include $50 million in additional money for senior programs because of this transaction.

The long-term contract now goes to Attorney General Kathleen Kane for her review before being finalized.

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